Week of 11/14/16 - 11/18/16

Hello Panthers!
I hope you had a great weekend! I have noticed that when my favorite college football teams when over the weekend that I have a much better weekend. Sounds petty as to how something that I have absolutely no direct influence over can affect my mood. That is probably a character flaw on my end, but just being real. It has me wondering what other things that I have no control over play a role in my happiness.

Congrats are in order!
Ridgeview Fine Arts has been racking up the honors lately! I told you last week that we had success, but left out a few. In choir, we had 14 students make the Regional Choir, this is almost double our previous best. At the Renaissance Festival, we had a duet acting couple place 3rd. At One Act Play, we had 6 students receive honors including 2 All-Star cast and 1 Best Supporting Actress. Our band might have taken the cake this weekend placing 29 students in the Regional Band! This almost tripled the number from last year. We also had our 8th grade B team finish an undefeated season as district champs in football! Now if we can take home the prize for most cans turned in for the food drive, I will be content until next semester!

Canned Food Drive
Speaking of the canned food drive, there are only 3 DAYS left!!! Bring in those cans! There will be a big announcement at school on Monday for the winning advisory of each grade level as extra incentive. Remember, it is the Round Rock Food Pantry and our local community that benefit the most from this contest!

8th grade visits Cedar Ridge on Friday
The 8th grade class will be visiting Cedar Ridge on Friday morning. They should return by lunch. Students will learn about academy options and tour the building. Counselors have been at the school to introduce 8th graders on what a typical schedule will look like for 8th grade and to get them familiar with some of the terminology used in high school regarding graduation requirements and high school classes. We will host several meetings in the Spring for parents so that you are well prepared for the transition.

Basketball starts this week
Come on out and watch the basketball season kick off! The Lady Panthers play on Monday and the boys play on Thursday. Both teams will be facing Grisham.

Just for Fun
Friday after school marks the return of the annual Staff vs Student Volleyball game. We had an excellent volleyball team this year so I was a little afraid leading up to the game. However, after watching the staff practice, I am confident that we will once again retain the title!

Tweeners
I did a little reading over the weekend about tweeners. What is a tweener? Generally, it is kids between the ages of 9-13. What I found fascinating was that the article said if you hope to teach a kid about morality, ethics, and character development you better do it during this time. If not, then you will have to wait until the are around 17 before you can reach them again. Of course there is no statistical evidence to support this claim, but it did get me thinking. Do we start early enough to teach our students about character? If they didn’t get it in elementary school, or at home, it seems that 6th grade is a critical year.

The article goes on to say that this is the perfect age to teach students about social pressures. It is not early exposure, because chances are that they are being exposed to it by one of their friends already. I touched on narcissism a few weeks ago. Teens often seem narcissistic and self absorbed. There are a few reasons for this. Much of it has to do with today’s lifestyle. Teens are much less invested in the family and feel that they are not valued as contributers. How might this change? Give teens responsibility at home and as part of the family. Let them know that the family is counting on them to contribute.

Brain development is also a contributing factor. Teens brains are still developing, especially the frontal lobe where executive functioning resides. This makes teens far more impulsive. They are able to understand right and wrong, but are poor at judging the consequences of their actions prior to the event happening. School expectations actually helps students this age to learn that choices have consequences, both positive and negative. It is encouraged that there also be home expectations that compare to the school, such as consequences for showing disrespect, lying, cheating, profanity, and physical or verbal aggression. Reinforcement in these areas helps develop a solid foundation for morality and character development.

Why bring this up? For whatever reason, risky behavior with teens tends to escalate around the holidays. Much of it might center on being out of a normal schedule, perhaps being in a different setting, or a lack of supervision. It makes sense. I can remember the kids being sent away while the adults interacted. No one was watching us and a majority of the time, that is when we were up to no good. Teens face added pressure with exposure to alcohol, drugs, and options for sexual experiences. Having a conversation with your tween can feel like pulling teeth at times, but persistence is worth it in the long run.

Here are ten tips for having conversations with your tween:
  1. Do not gasp or look stunned at what a tween might want to share, especially if they are confessing to something.
  2. Don’t jump to a lecture when they really need you to just listen. You are not there to solve their problems (what skill does that teach) but rather to guide them so that they are able to solve for themselves.
  3. Keep confidence between you and them (unless there is potential harm to self or someone else)
  4. Turn gossip away gently (don’t jump on the bandwagon by agreeing, try to voice an alternative perspective or viewpoint for better conversation)
  5. Try answering a question with a question (kids want the easy way out, make them think about the response they are giving)
  6. Offer advice in the form of stories. This used to be done through fables, but seems to have waned through the last two decades.
  7. You can sow seeds of advice, but what they come up with on their own is more fruitful.
  8. Don’t lecture unless you know what you are talking about. Research it together.
  9. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know” - kids know when you are faking.
  10. Don’t be intimidated by difficult questions or subjects (reluctance adds mystery and intrigue)

Will having conversations solve all of your problems? No, it won’t. However, it will help you to build a bridge of trust and openness through conversations that is invaluable to building a healthy relationship with your teen. Knowing that a teen has an adult that they can talk with when they are unsure how to deal with teen pressures is critical to helping them make better choices and developing healthy character traits. Start with something easy, like our recent election (sorry, I couldn’t resist). In all seriousness, it probably is a healthy conversation that needs to take place. Of utmost importance is how to bring peace and unity to a country that is divided. I don’t have the answer, but I know it starts with conversations and community building, getting to know those that you really do not know and learning about each other’s gifts and talents. That is how you move forward, by focusing on what McKnight and Block call the “abundant community.” More on that next time!

Make it a great week Ridgeview, the choice is yours!

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